Year 3 Day 20
Read - Mark 9:14-20
Message - Alan Burke
I think it’s fair to say that faith isn’t just plain sailing and we see that here today in more than one way. First there is Peter James and John who had been with Jesus at the Transfiguration, they now come down and they are greeted with the other disciples, a large crowd but there too are teachers of the law arguing with them. There is nothing said of the reason for the argument but likely as the passage continues it is because a man had brought his son to the disciples of Jesus and they were unable to help. The boy was possessed by a spirit and the outworking of that is horrific. Even though that Jesus’s disciples had before in the gospel of Mark cast out demons, here they had here failed to do anything for this boy (6:7, 13, 30). The crux of it as we will see clearly as the passage goes on is that they had went on auto pilot, they had forgotten that in all things they were dependant not on themselves but on another.
The detail that the boys father gives, of what his son faced is striking. It’s awful! Many have in an attempt to explain what is going on and this miracle have seen what is described and attributed what this boy faced as the condition epilepsy. Symptoms yes that are often associated with epilepsy, yet Mark emphasises that what this boy faced was not an illness, rather it was demon possession, and the the boy’s father graphically and painfully testifies to what his son faced. The unfolding scene that has seen arguing and strife, failure, pain and suffering, Jesus responds and it is one of Judgement. Yes the disciples had been left and they had let everything get out of hand but it not on the disciples Jesus exclaims “O unbelieving generation”, rather it is in judgement at the unbelieving nature of the crowd and the people of God. Exasperated at this unbelieving crowd before Him, Jesus asks how long?
O unbelieving generation was aimed at the crowd whereas this question was aimed towards the disciples. It coveys not a desire to get rid of them but exasperation at how little time he has left to teach them and prepare them for what lay ahead. Preparing these mediocre disciples for His betrayal, death and resurrection and when He ascended, leaving them to take the gospel out teaching others, making disciples. After this exasperated cry, in the midst of the unbelief of the people, in the midst of the failures of the disciples to do anything without him Jesus takes action, asking for the boy to be brought to Him.
Look though to what we are told, v20, that as soon as they had brought the boy, “when the spirit saw Jesus the boy is thrown into violent convulsions. It is at this point the condition that was described by the father becomes a reality to all who look on, as they see the impact that this is having on this boys life. Here though the point is made that the seizures are not coincidental, rather it was because the spirit saw Jesus. The spirit knew that its rule over the boy would soon end, what initially comes in the presence of Jesus is not peace, but suffering. This is a terrible graphic scene that is made worse because of the presence of Jesus, in fact things get much worse before they get better for this boy.
Here what we see is that in the presence of Jesus, where He is working there is opposition. This truth that is portrayed here and is seen in the gospel and Jesus warns us of is something we might shy away from but that when Jesus is present, when He is at work by The Holy Spirit working among His people there is going to be opposition. Here this evil spirit was doing all that he could in this boy and likewise Satan, the evil one will do all that he can in this world, in this place and in our lives to try to destroy, tear down, thwart the plans and purposes of God amongst His people. Faith isn’t plain sailing, our lives aren’t plain sailing and ultimately it is because this world is fallen and sinful, we are fallen and sinful and until Jesus makes all things new (Rev 21:5) we shouldn’t it to be plain sailing, but for the believer we have that sure and steadfast hope in the midst of it all because of Christ Jesus.
Q25 How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, (Heb. 9:14,28) and reconcile us to God; (Heb. 2:17) and in making continual intercession for us. (Heb. 7:24–25)